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Thursday, 21 January 2021, 6:00PM - 7:00PM
Online Lecture

Russian Piano Masterpieces: Scriabin

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker FBA, Peter Donohoe CBE

Scriabin was Rachmaninov’s classmate at the Moscow Conservatoire, and he likewise received a Gold Medal for his combined studies in piano and composition. His commitment was also as unswerving as Rachmaninov’s, and yet public knowledge of his music remains hazy, especially outside of Russia, and it still has an esoteric and forbidding aura. Scriabin’s starting point was Chopin, but where others were content to pay reverent homage to that earlier master, Scriabin took him as inspiration for bold experiments in his preludes, études and above all in his great series of ten sonatas, which span his career. 

Working within the loose artistic movement known as “Symbolism”, his ambitions were fuelled by theosophy and his own syncretism of mystical ideas. For him, some of his later projects stretched far beyond the normal limits of art, and one partially written piece was designed to bring about the dissolution of the universe into nothingness. The Sonatas take us on a journey from his early post-Chopin soundworld through to refined sensations and rarefied sounds of his later Symbolism, and although his ideas descended through decadence to insanity, his musical judgement never left him.

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Marina Frolova-Walker is Gresham Professor of Music. She is a Russian-born British musicologist and music historian. She is Professor of Music History and Director of Studies in Music at Clare College, Cambridge. 

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker is a specialist in the Russian music of the 19th and 20th centuries. She has published extensively on Russian music and is a well-known lecturer and broadcaster for BBC Radio 3. Among her many awards and appointments, she is a Fellow of the British Academy and was awarded the Edward Dent Medal in 2015 by the Royal Musical Association for her achievements in musicology. 

She was appointed as Visiting Gresham Professor of Russian Music in 2018-19. 

You can find more information on Marina and her research interests here: https://www.marinafrolova-walker.com/

Professor Frolova-Walker's lecture series are as follows:

2021/22 Music Under Stalin

2020/21 Russian Piano Masterpieces

2019/20 Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes

2018/19 Russian Opera and the State (as Visiting Gresham Professor of Russian Music)

All lectures by the Gresham Professors of Music can be accessed here.

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Peter Donohoe CBE is one of Britain’s foremost pianists, whose international career was launched by his success at the 1982 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Since then, he has performed at the world’s major venues, including the Hollywood Bowl, the Sydney Opera House and the Teatro Colón, collaborating with conductors such as Simon Rattle, Yevgeni Svetlanov and Gustavo Dudamel, and he has appeared at the BBC Proms a remarkable twenty-two times. 

In the course of his forty-year career, Russian music has always been at the core of his huge repertoire. His highly acclaimed recordings include all the Tchaikovsky concertos, all the Scriabin sonatas, all the Rachmaninov preludes, all the Prokofiev sonatas, Stravinsky’s music for piano solo and with orchestra, and all the Shostakovich sonatas, concertos and preludes and fugues.

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